TOUGH START FOR MENEZES AT 2009 EUROPEAN DEBUT IN LA CONCA Two-time North American JICA vice-champion battles through rocky opening round of WSK International Series LA CONCA, ITALY (February 9, 2009) -- Following a successful weekend at the...
TOUGH START FOR MENEZES AT 2009 EUROPEAN DEBUT IN LA CONCA
Two-time North American JICA vice-champion battles through rocky opening round of WSK International Series
LA CONCA, ITALY (February 9, 2009) -- Following a successful weekend at the Florida Winter Tour opener in Homestead, Florida back in mid-January, California karter Gustavo Menezes set sail for Italy to contend the opening round of the WSK International Series at the International Circuit of La Conca on February 6-8. Menezes spent the previous weekend testing with the Tony Kart Junior Racing Team at the La Conca circuit and looked to be on pace for a successful event in the KF3 Junior category. Despite the expectations, the racing gods jumped up to bite Menezes in nearly every official session that he hit the track.
Qualifying saw Menezes put down his quickest lap of 49.534 seconds, which placed him 31st overall out of 68 drivers. The WSK KF3 program is extremely competition and the 10 drivers from 21st position back to Gustavo in 31st were only separated by just eight-hundredths of a second. Assigned to Group A for the heats, the 14-year old would start each of the four qualifying motos races from the 13th grid position.
In the opening heat race, Menezes was quickly able to get up to the ninth position, however, mechanical gremlins came to visit as his Vortex engine let go on lap four. After swapping out for the back-up engine, Gustavo was set to leave the grid for the second heat when his battery malfunctioned and forced him to start the race from pit lane. He would go on to finish 21st in that 12-lap event, certainly not the start he was hoping for. The third heat began well as Menezes advanced to sixth, but again, the engine would expire after getting the halfway sign. The final qualifying heat saw contact from behind push Gustavo on top of the kart in front of him at the very start of the race. Well behind as a result, he managed to make up as much ground as possible, crossing the line in 21st.
Despite the terrible luck, Menezes earned enough points to start in the Repechage from the 34th position. The 12-lap Last Chance Qualifier was a tough battle and an incident involving an injured driver brought out the yellow for most of the race. Despite the caution flag situation, drivers continued to jostle for position and amidst the chaos, Gustavo would advance to ninth even with bent steering components, just three spots shy of transferring on to the show. Despite the rough weekend and not qualifying for the main events, this was still an impressive run for the young American.
Putting the weekend behind him, Gustavo will now focus on the returning to the Italy to compete at the 14th annual Winter Cup at the South Garda Karting facility in Lonato on February 20-22. Menezes will be competing at the prestigious event among 102 drivers battling for the KF3 title.